When someone dies, everything they own is referred to as their estate. This can be made up of cash, money in the bank, savings, property, jewellery, artwork – anything that’s an asset.
Unfortunately, who inherits this can sometimes lead to disputes. Individuals then seek legal advice to find out about making a claim on an estate. Some of the more common reasons we see claims against estates include:
- Someone died before they made a Will
- The Will hadn’t been updated to reflect the person’s most recent circumstances. For example, they divorced and had a new partner
- Questions over the person’s mental capacity when they made the Will
- The person didn’t comply with the legal requirements for making the Will
- Someone was pressured or coerced into making the Will, or someone lied to them to get them to change it
- Inheritance Act claims – you feel the person who died should have provided for you
- The person made you a promise to leave you something in their will and they didn’t follow through
How do I make a claim on an estate?
If you wish to make a claim on an estate, below is a guide which takes you through some of the issues you’ll need to consider.
Do you have grounds to make a claim?
Obtain a copy of the Will as soon as possible from the Executor(s). The best thing to do is seek early legal advice to establish if your claim has any merit or not.
Check you’re within the time limit to make a claim
There are strict time limits in which you can make a claim on an estate. Below we’ve listed the nature of each claim and how long you have to contest it.
- Inheritance Act – six months from the Grant of Probate
- Claim for maintenance – six months from the Grant of Probate
- Rectification claims (where there has been a clerical error for example) – six months from the Grant of Probate
- Beneficiary making a claim – 12 years from the date of death
- Suspected fraud – no time limit
Consider entering a caveat
In some cases, it’s a good idea to enter a caveat. This means that the Probate Registry will not be able to issue a Grant of Probate or letters of administration. It’s easier to claim against an estate where probate hasn’t been granted and the assets haven’t been distributed yet.
Consider Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
An ADR service such as mediation, can help you to negotiate with the other parties involved. This will help to resolve conflicts quicker and with a bit of luck, outside court. This helps reduce stress for everyone involved and keeps legal costs down as well.
Follow the Pre Action Protocol
This protocol aims to deal with disputes quickly, cheaply and ideally, without going to court. The Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS) has produced guidance on how to follow the protocol. This is known as the ACTAPS Code and it can be downloaded from their website.
Seek legal advice
Whether your claim ends up in court or not, we highly recommend seeking professional advice from a reputable solicitor. Making a claim on an estate can be complicated and in cases like this, emotions often run high.
If you would like advice or support making a claim, please don’t hesitate to get in touch either by phoning our office or using the form provided.
These materials and content have been prepared for the benefit of their viewers/readers. They are intended for marketing purposes only and are of a general nature and do not constitute legal advice applicable to any particular facts or circumstances. Kidd Rapinet LLP and/or the author(s) accept no duty of care, responsibility or liability for any loss or damage which you or any third party may suffer as a result of any reliance or use by you or they of these marketing materials and content, except to the extent it is not legally possible to exclude such liability. If you require legal advice on your own situation, please contact us so we can discuss how we may assist.